Page 30 - 2019 How-to-Specify E-Book
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Three Connector Considerations for Autonomous and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Applications
Steven Lassen, Senior Customer Applications Engineer at LEMO USA, Inc.
In the ever-changing world of technology, keeping up with the latest design requirements can be a challenge. Startups in emerging markets struggle to standardize on a particular component or interface. In the connector world, the choices seem endless. Autonomous vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) sport an intricate combination of technologies including radar, LiDAR, GPS, sonar, and artificial intelligence, along with numerous sensors and cameras, to create real-time images of the surrounding world within an onboard computer.
UAVs like the USAF MQ-9 Reaper have rigorous demands regarding size, weight, power, and data capabilities.
Selecting connectors that can reliably transmit power, signal, and data between these various and often critical technologies, as well as meet other application demands, like lightweighting, can be simple or varying levels of complex. The simplest connector selections result from original equipment manufacturer (OEM) specifications. In these cases, systems engineers simply need to identify the proper mating connector for the device, and they don’t even have to do that if the mating connector is supplied with pigtails. Selections get more complex when several technologies need to be combined into a single connector to ensure ruggedized, weatherproof connections, streamline cabling, create foolproof mating solutions, and achieve other application-specific characteristics, including high-speed data throughput.
The top three connector considerations for demanding autonomous vehicle and UAV applications are data speed and power, materials, and environmental resistance.
Data Speed and Power
High-speed data and reliable power are imperative to the optimal performance of autonomous vehicles and UAVs. Each segment of a high-speed data connection introduces latency, and each must operate as expected all the time to support the many mission-critical elements that comprise these complex systems. So, the data speed and power capabilities of connector selections are extremely critical.

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